BEAR MOUNTAIN, N.Y. - It's not often bikers wear pink, but Monday was different.
Bikers, advocates, cancer survivors, and others gathered at Bear Mountain State Park where Gov. Andrew Cuomo, his girlfriend and celebrity chef Sandra Lee, and plenty more bikers hopped off their motorcycles for an hour, part of a breast cancer awareness campaign called "Get Screened, No Excuses." The campaign is part of an effort to eliminate hurdles woman are confronted with when trying to get screened for breast cancer.
The ride started on Long Island on Monday and marked the first of three legs.
Earlier in the morning Cuomo signed a piece of legislation that is meant to improve access to breast cancer screenings for woman. 210 hospitals and affiliated will be required to expand their hours of operation by at least four hours each week while annual co-payments and deductibles for screening mammograms will be eliminated under the new legislation.
This is part of a $91 million plan Cuomo announced back in January. Among the speakers were County Executive Ed Day, who provided the opening remarks, and Cuomo's longtime partner Sandra Lee.
Lee, who lives with Cuomo in New Castle, was diagnosed with breast cancer over a year ago but today is cancer-free. During her remarks she explained how riding a motorcycle is a way her and Cuomo spend time together.
"But this needs to be implemented in every single state. So every governor and every advocacy group needs to get behind this in their next session and make it happen so we can save women’s and men’s lives," Lee said.
Early diagnosis is the best way to prevent breast cancer, Cuomo explained, before identifying the three reasons he was told by nurses and doctors as to why women don't get screened: time, costs, and a lack of information on where to go and how to do it. The governor went on to explain how all three of these issues have been addressed with this legislation.
Cuomo recalled when the doctor said "luckily we caught it early," of Lee's cancer.
"It should not be luckily, it should not be a matter of luck. It is a matter of life and death. Luckily we caught it early? You should always catch it early. And you can if people go for the screening. It is that simple," Cuomo said.
“The thing is, had this program been there for me then, I would’ve gotten diagnosed earlier,” Laura Daniele said.
Daniele made the trip to the event from Buchanan and is one of the woman this legislation could've helped almost three years ago when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.
“When I knew it was very local to my home I said I have to represent the Stage 4 women who are no longer here,” she said.
When Daniele went without health coverage for four years, it also meant no breast cancer screenings. In 2013 she signed up to receive health coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The first thing she did was go for a screening; the last time she had been screened was before 2009. She is still fighting.
“This [legislation] is a voice. This is saying, ‘Wake up, go to the doctor, do what you gotta do.’ And there are no excuses, just get it done,” she said.
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